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A View from the Top - Holy Hill


View from the Tower - Holy Hill by Erin Hanley

The leaves are bright and the air is crisp. Now is the time to make the drive out to Holy Hill.

Located in the township of Erin, only 30 miles from Milwaukee, the Basilica of Holy Hill is the place to be for those who wish to experience the awesomeness of autumn in Wisconsin. The Basilica's location atop the highest point in the Kettle Moraine area, combined with the height of its Scenic Tower, make Holy Hill the ideal spot for observing the changing colors. During my visit, I was told that on a good day you can even see the First Wisconsin Building in downtown Milwaukee. Be sure to take your time up the 178-step narrow stairway because the view from the top of the Tower is sure to take your breathe away.

The Basilica rests upon 400 acres of forested land that a visitor can experience either by walking the outdoor path of the Way of the Cross, or by navigating the adjacent Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Covering over 1000 miles and 30 Wisconsin counties, the Ice Age Trail highlights the unique landscape that melting glaciers created across our state. With temperatures still pretty decent, the next couple weekends are the perfect time to take to the trails and check out the fall foliage. However, with the arrival of the winter season, cross country trails do open up for those who don't mind the harsher weather.

In addition to geographic history, the Holy Hill site is rich in spiritual history as well. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1992, the site of the Basilica has been a part of the history of many different belief systems. Early on, it is believed that Native American honored the site due to its height and proximity to the sky. Other stories tell of Jesuit Missionaries who were drawn to the magnificence of the hill and carried out their works there. One of the more famous tales depicts a Frenchman who followed an old map on a whim and ended up at Holy Hill. He has been described as anywhere from miracle man who was cured of paralysis to religious eccentric. Despite their stories, all of these historical figures were drawn by spiritual reasons to the Hill. The present time parallels this history as over 300,000 visitors from all faiths and walks of life are drawn to make the pilgrimage to Holy Hill. Likewise, whether you make the visit for the views or the pews, you will feel the magic of this special spot.

The Basilica of Holy Hill closes at 5:00PM, so check out these other unique attractions after dark.

Hubertus House of Horror - Haunted House

Fox and Hounds - Unique Restaurant established in 1933